Parade Marches Ahead with Character-Led Factual Entertainment

Matthew Ashcroft, the CEO of Parade, talks to TV Real about the company and its success with character-led factual entertainment.

London-based Parade specializes in the development, financing and global sales of premium lifestyle and factual programming, selling to more than 150 markets worldwide. The company works with leading producers around the globe who make large-scale formats as well as localized original content for television broadcast, digital publishing and second-screen applications. It was set up in 2015 by CEO and former Shine International executive Matthew Ashcroft.

***Image***Late last year, Station12, S4C Digital Media and their joint venture, Media Rocket, took a combined minority stake of 30 percent in Parade. As a result, Ashcroft says “the company has been able to invest heavily in new programming and infrastructure and make key sales appointments in EMEA and Southeast Asia.”

One of Parade’s most successful titles is Chris Humfrey’s Animal Instinct, which aims to promote the importance of protecting all living creatures. Discovery Communications’ Animal Planet is the original broadcaster of the new 13×30-minute series, which sees the titular Aussie zoologist tackle such challenges as breeding endangered species, catching a 120-kilogram ostrich and feeding a crocodile in his kitchen, among other things. “Everyone loves animals and Chris lives with more than 2,000 of them at his Wild Action zoo,” says Ashcroft.

Another character-led, animal-themed series on offer from Parade is Desert Vet, which follows seasoned veterinarian Rick Fenny, his family and his ***Image***network of vet clinics as they work with animals in some of the most remote and hostile conditions across Western Australia.

Besides wildlife, Parade’s other popular genres are food and travel and home and garden. Additional highlights from the company’s catalog include the factual show Backpack Nightmares; the lifestyle programs Andy & Ben Eat AustraliaAround the World with Manu FeildelTropical GourmetReady Set RenoEveryday Gourmet and Audra’s Kitchen Table; and the competition series Restaurant Revolution.

Regarding trends in the factual programming space, Ashcroft has been observing that “strong, character-led series are in demand,” as well as “real-world stories” and “shareable content that’s relevant and an immersive experience.” He says the company has had “a lot of success in North and Southeast Asia and Central and Eastern Europe, with broadcasters ranging from pan-regional to local free TV and pay TV.”

Around 10 percent of Parade’s catalog is comprised of original content, according to Ashcroft, who hopes to see that amount double in 2017. In the months to come, he says the company plans to “invest more in third-party acquisitions and original programming with a view to build out the factual-entertainment strand.”